Sunday, May 15, 2016

Big Pharma's $100 Million Spending Plan for the Golden State

Big Pharma is going to be spending $100 million in California this year for a special effort, but none of the cash will be going for stem cells or, for that matter, any research purpose whatsoever.

The target of the spending is a ballot measure, the same sort of initiative that created the California stem cell agency. In this case, however, the proposal on the November ballot would limit prices that state agencies can spend for prescription drugs.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times this weekend, columnist Michael Hiltzik explored a bit of the ins and outs of the measure, He said,
"The so-called California Drug Price Relief Act would cap the price any state agency or healthcare program could spend on prescription drugs at the level paid by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which customarily receives the largest discounts of any government agency. Turning the VA’s prices into a benchmark for California could cost Big Pharma billions of dollars a year in profits, especially if the discounts were later demanded by other states or even private insurers."
Hiltzik reported that as of April 29, the opposition to the measure has amassed $68 million -- six months before the election. He said that experts estimate that at least $100 million will be spent to defeat the proposal. That could make the campaign among the most expensive in California history.

Fueling the debate are the skyrocketing prices of some drugs. The issue has surfaced in the presidential campaigns with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton taking on the drug industry. Trump even talked about squeezing "$300 billion" out of Big Pharma. All of which means that the California battle is likely to attract considerable national attention.

Meanwhile the hooha has helped to dampen the outlook for the industry this year, which does not necessarily bode well for some of California's ambitious plans to push stem cell therapies into the marketplace. Expectations of lower revenues may well suppress industry's enthusiasm for such things as the stem cell agency's proposal to create a $150-million, public-private stem cell "powerhouse." Sphere: Related Content

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